Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Banquet circuit an office escape

Steve PiattWhen you work out of a home office, in a remote area, with a couple Labrador retrievers as your only company all day if the phone isn't ringing, you can actually go for hours without saying anything more than "sit," "lay down" and "go pee."

It has its advantages at times. You can pop a turkey call in your mouth and yelp away, although that usually sends Haley slinking upstairs. And the setting does allow for some furious bursts of copy production – which, I might add, have been pretty useful lately given some of the bulky editions of New York Outdoor News.

Still, even a curmudgeon like myself tends to feel like a caged animal if it carries on for too long. So I always jump at the chance to travel the state to meet and/or speak with sportsmen's groups, always stopping short of asking why they want me to talk to them for fear they won't have a logical answer.

I'll be doing that this weekend when I head down Interstate 87 to the Kingston area for a gathering of the Federated Sportsmen's Clubs of Ulster County. It's an area of the state I seldom visit, although I have kicked around the idea of visiting the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on an October day for an Army football game. And if I play my cards right I could parlay this banquet into an invite for a Hudson River striper fishing trip.

Chances are the folks who haven't met me in person will be a little surprised, and maybe even disappointed. For some reason many comment they expected me to be bigger, instead of an off-the-rack, 165-pound, middle-aged guy with the overbite of a moose calf. But hey, I'm a good turkey hunter and have also been known to deliver a Size 16 Elk Hair Caddis right into the feeding lane of an Ausable River brown. Let's see CC Sabathia do that.

The only real drawback to this whole trip is that I have to prepare a 15-minute or so speech. Even though I do it with some regularity, I'm not now nor will I ever be at the stage where I just wing it.

I can usually sweat my way through the talk without any real stumbling. But even though I'll be doing a lot of talking, to me the real benefit of the whole thing is that I get to meet with fellow sportsmen and women, readers of New York Outdoor News and hear what they have to say about the paper and the sporting issues of the day. I come away with a pretty clear picture of what we're doing right, what our readers see as important and what we might be able to do to improve NYON.

It's well worth whatever anguish is involved writing and then delivering a few words to an audience of hunters and anglers. Even the tie is only a temporary detriment to comfort, one that's usually shed – sometimes with the shoes – before I even get out of the parking lot.

I'll stick around after the banquet to talk hunting and fishing, but given the work schedule and looming Montana fishing trip just a few days later, I won't spend the night. Instead, I'll wheel in at about 2 a.m., met by Haley and Maddie, who will quickly settle back in for the night after I tell them to lay down. That's a speech I don't need to prepare.

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